Originally Posted by Dveha
I took a reading on my water today and everything is fine, except my alkaline reading which is very high. Why would it suddenly spike and how can I fix it?
This hasn't really been addressed yet.
The alkalinity that those test strips is showing is the KH portion of the hardness or GH.
Normally the GH is a higher number as it contains the total hardness and the KH is somewhat lower. When you uise a softener the KH can be much higher due to the salt that is now the the water... I won't try to get into the whole why but the short answer is that the addition of salts displaces the GH components of the hardness making it feel softer. The KH buffers the pH, the higher the KH the more stable the pH tends to be and also the higher it tends to be... I am not sure if this relationship is the same with a high KH due to softened water.
I wouldn't recommend using softened water but to use water from ahead of the system. It's more stable and easier on the fish, less salt. If your values changed it could be that you replaced the softening salt when it was empty, changed brands of salt, changed the settings of the softener.
I'd suggest getting the GH/KH test kit, about $10, and test it again... both the pre-softened water and softened water. If the pH buffering remains with the high softened KH and you are sitting at pH 8.2 then the KH must be very high... top of the strip range is 300ppm, could be somewhat higher than that.
With all of your fish being hard water fish you would probably be fine using the hard well water. I do and mine is in the 20dGH (350ppm) range and my fish aren't specifically hard water types, just hard water varieties of barbs and catfish.